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RIP to an Old Soldier gone to "The Green Fields".

MG Maniac

War Hero
Father in Law died aged 88 over the weekend and it has been left up to me to organise the funeral. He was in 1st Royal Tank Regiment in the war, initially in North Africa as one of Monty's "Desert Rats" in Churchills. He then re-equiped into Shermans and took part in the Salerno landings driving the length of Italy before returning to UK and then taking part in the final push from Normandy ending up in Hamburg. In Italy he pulled another Trooper from a burning tank earning him a "Mention in Dispatches" for "distingushed and gallant service" and he wore the Oak Leaf with pride.

He never really talked about The War and it wasn't until I was going through some of his personal papers over the weekend that I found a report of the battle group as it moved up through Italy and it is facinating reading. Trying to decypher some of the abbrieviations was a bit heavy going .. tk (tank??) ... SP (Self Propelled Gun??) I think ... but "Rhino's" & "Crocs" is a bit beyond me. Seems that the Italian troops didn't give them much hassle and it was only when they came up against Panzers (Tiger Tanks) that they got a bit more grief - Sod coming up agaiinst Tigers in Shermans! What did make really interesting was the bit about his Troop being seconded in support of 2 Cdo Brigade!

Thanks to BR (apprieciate your help Blackrat) I've managed to discover where I can get the Regimental Flag as a coffin drape and a bit of investigation on the web has come up with the Regimental Marches for 1st RTR. He didn't want any Hymns so got some military music to play during the funeral with the local Army Chaplain officiating. Think he would have enjoyed the irony of having a Matelot organise an Army funeral so the twist in the tail is that the recording I've found of the Regimental March is played by the Band of the Royal Marines! Well it was a better recording than the one by the Band of the RTR! At least thats my story and I'm sticking to it!
 

WreckerL

War Hero
Super Moderator
Being a WW2 anorak, the "croc" was probably a Crocodile Flame thrower tank adapted from the Churchill tank and a Rhino was the name given to tanks that had hedge breaking spikes fitted to the front of them, they were brought about to break through the Normandy hedgerows, SP does stand for Self Propelled Gun as in an artillery piece mounted on a tracked chassis.
 

MG Maniac

War Hero
Thanks Wrecker ... had me foxed a bit! The report is written in "tankese" so took some decoding! One bit was where they found an Italian SP sheeted up with the crew asleep inside so captured them. Don't see how they could sleep with a troop of Shermans clanking up the road! BL I presume are bridgelayers ... they mentioned a couple of types .. light and heavy ... and they had Sherman Dozers. I was trying to sort out the timelines ... seems he was in the desert for some 2 years before going up through Italy ending up in Venice then home to get ready for the Normany landings then up through Europe to end up at Hamburg. Seems they had the Rhino's in Italy before the Normandy landings!
 

Rumrat

War Hero
Sorry to hear of your loss mate, at least he had a good innings. Hope he went peaceful.

Had a bit of a shocker myself, my ex wife died two weeks ago, she had emphysema. She was 63 years old and had been ill for a spell.
She gave me two great children so I have always been greatful to her for that.
She was in the army, Womens Royal Army Corp, she was a musician in the staff band when I met her, and she was stationed at Queen Elizabeth park in Guilford. She was the first ever woman in a uniform to enter East Berlin, her 15 minutes of fame.
Although divorced we remained quite good friends, and I was really upset when she died, especially as I saw how the kids took it.
Her name when single was Christine Whale and she was known to everyone as "Cindy".
Rest in Peace Babe, you can breath properly now.XX
 

WreckerL

War Hero
Super Moderator
Couldn't have been the Normandy Rhino then. Germany had a tank destroyer (basically a tank without a turret, a bit like a SP but the gun was covered in armour) called a Rhino which was an 8.8 cm Pak 43/1 auf GW IV Nashorn (Rhino) to give it it's correct name.
 

Andy_Cap

War Hero
MGM Sorry to hear about your loss. My Dad was also a "Desert Rat" never talked about it much, Only found out about most of it after he passed away.
 

MG Maniac

War Hero
Couldn't have been the Normandy Rhino then. Germany had a tank destroyer (basically a tank without a turret, a bit like a SP but the gun was covered in armour) called a Rhino which was an 8.8 cm Pak 43/1 auf GW IV Nashorn (Rhino) to give it it's correct name.

Could well have been mate. As I said its all in "tankese" so could be talking about the QE2 for all I know! Its all turreted this and turretless that. I did think that the Croc was a bridgelayer at first but your description fits better with the narrative!

Sorry to hear of your loss mate, at least he had a good innings. Hope he went peaceful.

Had a bit of a shocker myself, my ex wife died two weeks ago, she had emphysema. She was 63 years old and had been ill for a spell.

Thanks Rummers ... and sorry for your loss too ...Yes he went peacefully in his sleep ... of emphasema as well ... a lot of it about ... must be catching! He smoked Capstan Full Strength all his life so not supprised his lungs were shot! Think in the end his lungs were so bad that he was getting chest infection after chest infection and either the infection or lack of air did for him in the end.

Pongo's have come up trumps! Rang the Regt HQ yesterday to borrow a Regt coffin drape and its just arrived with "the postie" special delivery! Bugger! That means I have to go back to work!
 

MotleyBlue

Badgeman
Very sorry to here about your loss. Interestingly my Grandad who passed a few years a go was a desert rat who went on to serve in italy and was rescued from a burning tank and then given the kings badge, what a small world it would be if the man that saved my grandads life was your father in law. Brave men one and all and may they and your father in law rest in peace.
 

WreckerL

War Hero
Super Moderator
Have to say before I joined up I worked with an ex-desert rat, he used to go mental if you left a tap running or wasted water. He never talked about it but the water thing stuck with him all those years afterwards.
 

MG Maniac

War Hero
Very sorry to here about your loss. Interestingly my Grandad who passed a few years a go was a desert rat who went on to serve in italy and was rescued from a burning tank and then given the kings badge, what a small world it would be if the man that saved my grandads life was your father in law. Brave men one and all and may they and your father in law rest in peace.

Don't think so as FIL said the guy had had both legs blown off in the explosion and Bob carried him some distance to presumably the First Aid Station on his back (as his tank was also blown up) but apparently the guy died of his wounds.

But brave men none the less and reading the battle report of the Italy campaign is a real eye opener. Bob used to laugh at "Kelly's Hero's" as he always agreed with "Oddball" ... In a Sherman the only way you wanted to catch a Tiger was by its tail and then put a shell right up its arse! He always said the Churchill was a much better tank. On the D-Day celebrations a couple of years back M&S were flogging a couple of tanks in a display case so I got him one. Turns out that the markings on them were of his troop in the 1st RTR! He was well chuffed.
 
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